by Melissa Middleberg
Her hair was ribbon candy—ruby rays streaming past her shoulder blades. When she ran she was a flame of life rushing by. And she always ran, to avoid the stares, the undeserved compliments that made her perspire. Some tried to stop her, this creature with the most magnificent red head they’d ever seen, but she hid behind her scarlet wisps and kept running. One night under the dangling light bulb in her mildewy bathroom she cut it, the scissors struggling at first through big handfuls, then clipping through smaller clumps that floated to the tiles and fanned out like red stars around the sink. Her head was a crimson duckling with soft chaotic tufts sticking out in every direction. She dragged a buzzer along her scalp with little sparks of hair exploding in short flares. A blue spot began to appear on the back of her fuzzy head. As she shaved the rest away she could see it was a silhouetted Virgin Mary.
She lay on the cold tiles, her head encircled by the red stars, waiting for her hair to grow back.